Looking Back:  When Hindsight is 20/20 on 2020

 In Jason Bunger

As 2020 comes to a close, I feel it is safe to say that it was a year like no other:  COVID-19, the shutting down of businesses/schools, racial tensions at a 50-year high and the most bitter presidential election in our nation’s history.  Yet in the midst of challenges like these, we often experience our greatest growth.  

Each year, I try to spend the final few days day looking forward to what I want to pursue in the upcoming year as well as looking back to see what God has taught me this previous year.  This year not only taught me some valuable lessons, but the shutdown and social isolation made these insights so much clearer.  Here are a few valuable lessons that I learned over this past year:

  1. There are two primary ways that leaders look at crisis:  some leaders only see it as setback while other recognize it could be an opportunity.  Those who see it only as setback become paralyzed, not able to operate until things return to normal.  Unfortunately, what was “normal” in many ways will never return again.  Yet others see a crisis as a “set-up” for an opportunity to be innovative.  These leaders don’t talk about what they can’t do in a crisis.  They ask the question, “What can we do that we would have never considered before?”  The innovation of the leadership of Hope has astounded me this year. They include transitioning to online services to joining online groups, strengthening prayer, and looking for creative ways to serve our community.  I have been overwhelmed by the innovation of the leaders that I had the privilege to serve with this year.
  2. The majority our stress often stems from two or three people in our lives.  One person was sharing with me recently how social distancing has caused us to take an inventory of the people in our lives.  One person commented to me, ‘I never realized how negative a certain person was to be around.  It took time of not being around them to notice how much I was allowing it to affect me.’  (paraphrase mine).   The lockdown also made me realize how we often rob the people closest to us of our best emotional energy, because we allow it to be drained by other people, who often times don’t want help, they just want someone to share in their misery.
  3. Sometimes we lose excellence by demanding perfection.  I have been trying to years to have my weekly message done by Thursday so that I can enjoy Saturdays with my family and loved ones.  Yet I could never seem to get it done by Thursday.  It is not that I was procrastinating or being lazy.  I study early in the week and I study hard.  But I was always trying to read one more text, find another illustration or think of a different way to say something.  However, by recording on Thursday nights, I had to make final decisions on what to include or edit earlier in the week.  It forced me to make decisions about how to preach a message early in the week instead of on the weekend.
  4. We all have a limit, some of us are just not aware of what that limit is.  We only learn it by recognizing our failures.  Learning your limit is much like high jumping.  First, you clear a height, then they continue to raise the bar until you don’t clear the bar on three consecutive attempts.  Notice this:  you never know how high you can jump, until you learn how high you can’t jump.  Many of us got to the point that we simply could not go on doing the things and being the people we were prior to COVID-19.  So many of us learned our physical, emotional, financial and social limitations under the stress related to COVID-19.  It is often when we get to the point that you cannot do any more, that we were reminded that God’s grace is sufficient.  

These are only a few of the lessons that I learned this year.  Perhaps after the social distancing measures are no longer necessary, we can share with one another in person how God brought us through this season and what He taught us in the midst of it. 

In the meantime, I would love to hear what learned in the comments section below. 


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